In Conversation With Adrian Sassoon
Leading ceramics dealer Adrian Sassoon reveals a personal selection of his favourite cultural highlights, spanning our Dorchester Collection cities.
I live in London and often head to China Tang at The Dorchester when I’m in the mood for delicious Cantonese food. I find the steaks at nearby CUT at 45 Park Lane really tempting too. I have a special connection to 45 Park Lane, as the hotel stands on the site where, back in the 1920s and 1930s, my relative Sir Philip Sassoon lived until its demolition in the 1950s.
Sir Philip and I are the only two members of my family to have been Trustees of the Wallace Collection in London’s Manchester Square. This small but important museum is home to one of the greatest family collections of old master paintings and 18th-century French works of art, making it a must-see.
Being a patron of The National Gallery in London led me to the first of many stays at Le Meurice. Having both the Musée du Louvre and Museum of Decorative Arts across the road and the Musée d’Orsay within easy walking distance is an amazing experience.
Whenever I’m in Paris, I like to go to museums from late afternoon until early evening then meet friends for drinks at Le Meurice’s Bar 228 – a favourite local hangout. I’m always greeted at the hotel with such warmth and they really know how to organise things for their guests and take the best care of them.
For anyone looking for a quirky museum to visit in Milan, I recommend popping into the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi. It has the most extraordinary atmosphere and is very close to the main shopping district.
Another great find worth visiting is Villa Necchi Campiglio, a gem of an Art Deco house that impresses me beyond measure. The family who lived there were friends with Prince Heinrich of Hesse, whom I visited at his house in Rome in the 1990s. I remember him telling me how his Grandmother, the Queen of Italy, would make him laugh by declaring, “You know, it’s so tiring being a Queen.” He was a great person and it’s wonderful that Villa Necchi Campiglio still shares tales of him with their guests.
My first job was working at the J. Paul Getty Museum from 1980. At this time, it was housed in a Roman-style villa in Malibu filled with amazing 18th-century French works of art. Since those days, Los Angeles has become a big part of my life and Hotel Bel-Air my go-to home. I enjoy the hotel’s intimate lobby, walking through the peaceful gardens, their comfortable rooms, delicious food and wonderful staff.
In LA, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa are spectacular places to visit and I am planning to visit the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, as it is close to Hotel Bel-Air. I like visiting the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena to see the outstanding paintings collection. In contrast, the nearby immense gardens of the Huntington Botanical Gardens and Museum in San Marino are another favourite.
In the last few months, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has purchased a hardstone box from us made by contemporary artist Ben Gaskell, which is well worth seeing when it comes on display. I also have a selection of exceptional 1740s and 1750s French porcelain from my personal collection on show at the Getty Museum.
You can spend a month in Rome and hardly scratch the surface of wonderful sights to see. A couple of the obvious must-see places for me are the impressive Vatican Stanze – a series of the greatest of historic rooms in the Vatican, and the famous Pantheon with its vast unsupported roof dating back to 125 AD.
When I’m in the city I always visit Alessandra di Castro, an antique shop at the base of the Spanish Steps with fabulous works of art from across the centuries. After shopping here, Trattoria al Moro on nearby Vicolo delle Bollette is a great place to dine. Last but not least, Galleria Borghese, known for outstanding sculptures and paintings, is set in a magnificent botanical location – pure bliss.
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